How to successfully manage press release distribution

Oh how the world of PR has changed!  When I started out in the industry, press release distribution meant headed paper, a print run, photos developed and glued on, hard back envelopes and a trip to the post office.  The process of getting a press release out to the press was a lengthy cycle of phone calls, printing, posting, follow ups and tracking print papers and magazines (not to mention the fax machine).

It worked, of course, if executed well. But was expensive and time consuming.  And now feels somewhat archaic.

Today, there is a host of subscription services for press release distribution which will help marketers and PR professionals manage everything from building their target media list and identifying the right journalist or content editor, through to sending out your story and tracking responses.

Some of the biggest players in the market – Vuelio, Meltwater, PR Newswire and Roxhill Media offer a sophisticated range of distribution tools to help users get their stories to the right outlets, journalists and influencers.

A press release remains a popular tool for PR and marketing professionals to get the message out about a product, service or views of a brand.  Whether you opt to invest in a full press release distribution service for your news, or if you are using other tools to get news to your network of media contacts, there are some key principles which apply to all.

Know your audience

Not every story will be relevant to every target journalist on your list.  One of the biggest journalist bugbears is being sent news releases and story pitches which have no relevance to their readers.

So, revisit your media targets each time you distribute a story.  Ask yourself, is it relevant?  Will the story appeal to this readership?  Does it speak to their industry, their challenges or their interests?  As a very wise former colleague used to say, ‘if in doubt, leave it out’.

Alternatively, consider tailoring your story to each audience.  The more relevant and engaging, the more likely it is to be covered.

More than words

While good copy is the starting point for any press release, we now use a variety of media to illustrate a story – photos, infographics, video, audio all sized for online and social.  This gives brands the opportunity to bring their message to life and it fulfils a journalist’s need to create multi-media stories which will engage readers and ultimately drive clicks.

Relationships matter

Whether you are sending your press release to one contact or one hundred, relationships matter. A blanket email from an unknown sender can easily be overlooked in a crowded inbox.

While the current environment makes it tricky to meet people face to face, or even reach them at the office on the phone, you can build a relationship virtually, via email, connecting on LinkedIn or engaging with them on other social media.

Take time to get to know individuals, help people out, be responsive – treat working with journalists and influencers like any other business relationship, building trust and mutual respect.  Then, when they receive your press release….they’ll be more likely to read it.

Timing

The rules around timing of your press release distribution are more fluid than they once were.  Publishing is a constant and even the daily papers are less tied to their morning news conference than they would have been five years ago.  There is a constant demand for news and good content.

But timing is still important.  As is context.  Think about what else will be happening in the world of your target media and target audience when you send you story – read the room.  Whether it’s the time of day, the point in the week or the timing of other events which dominate the news agenda, think what’s best for your story.

At AMBITIOUS, press release distribution is just one of many tools we use in our media relations and earned media campaigns. To find out more, contact our team

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